3 Steps Towards No-Drama Communication
Healthy communication is key for a healthy family. But, most families struggle to communicate in a way that doesn’t end in a dramatic yelling match or stonewalling.
I am going to talk about three typical ways drama erupts while communicating with those we love and and review the three very important steps to end the drama.
Drama begins with any one individual entering into the conversation in one of three ways:
- A defensive manner
- A defenseless manner
- As the savior or rescuer to all
The defensive individual, often referred to as the persecutor, is often seeking to place blame or the responsibility onto another without working towards a solution. Their defensiveness often gets in the way of an outcome, as being right becomes more important than finding peace or solution.
The defenseless individual, referred to as the victim, tries to gain the sympathy of others rather than taking responsibility and finding a solution to the problem. They often enter into this cycle as being helpless and hopeless to create change in their own life or circumstances.
The savior or rescuer wants all the chaos to stop and by doing so often ends up in the middle of the chaos without having an ability to rescue anyone in the end. They end up frustrated and trapped between the two, eventually giving up and walking away without any resolution at all and with all parties feeling defeated.
Often the roles switch several times during the argument. The drama cycle goes on and on and usually in the end no one is really heard at all and our needs are never met.
If this is sounding all too familiar, it is now time to hear the 3 important steps to end the communication drama and then I’ll walk you through a scenario for clarity to tie everything together.
The first step to end the drama is work to CHALLENGE those we love to be the change and solution in their own life by asserting your feelings in response to the matter without punishing or shaming others. By doing so assertively we encourage growth and responsibility in others without being critical or dismissive.
The second step, COACH your family member towards options, solutions, and ways of navigating through matters rather than surrendering to defeat. Engage in listening and supporting rather than doing for others what they can do for themselves. Ask them what they can do for themselves.
The third step, EMPOWER yourself to choose and be the change you are looking for rather than looking to others to resolve. Engage in problem solving their own situation by owning their strengths and reviewing all the options.
Let me walk you through a scenario for clarity:
Your 15 year old gets home from school and throws down her backpack in the living room and goes to her room slamming the door behind her. You enter her room to check-in on her in concern after how she walked into the house.
She responds with defensiveness stating she does not want to talk and that she just wants to be left alone. You persist in trying to get information which is met with further anger and push back. You begin to express feelings of hurt at her reaction towards you and go to speak with your husband for reinforcement.
He enters the room now defending mom and criticizing your child for her response to mom. This continues to escalate and roles switch until everyone retreats feeling unheard, defeated, and hurt.
So how could this have gone differently if we apply the three steps above?
First, Mom moves from rescuer to victim and finally coach:
“I can see that you are struggling with something right now. I am here when you are ready to talk to me and I will always be here to help you sort through it if you need. What do you think would help right now? Can you find a solution or do you have a plan?”
Do you see how the mom moved from rescuer to COACHING?
Second, Dad moves from rescuer and defensive to asserting and challenging:
“We can tell you are struggling right now but it is not ok to take this out on your mother or I. Everyone struggles at times even mom and I and we try very hard to do better than to hurt one another. We want to help you to do better too, so when you are ready to tell us what is happening or once you have sorted through it, we are here to listen.”
Do you see how dad moved from persecutor to ASSERTING and CHALLENGING?
And third, let’s look at the Teen. The Teen moves from defensive to empowered:
“Mom this is something I have to sort through on my own right now, but I appreciate your concern. If I am stuck or can’t find a good solution, I will be sure to ask for help. It’s not about you and dad at all, but I shouldn’t have put that on you both when I came into the house like that. I am trying.”
Do you see how the teen moved from defensive to EMPOWERED?
Peace can be found when we are working together towards a solution and understanding of each other’s feelings and needs in any given situation. It takes stepping back to pause before reacting and to understand before working to be understood.
For many families, however, healthy communication does not come naturally. This is a learned skill.
If you’d like to work on yourself either as a parent or teen in developing healthy communication with one another, schedule an appointment today. We can help.